So you want to start your own self-hosted blog, but you have next to no clue how to get started, or even what that means. A quick Google search will reveal countless how-to articles, yet a lot of them are now outdated and/or complicated.
It is only getting easier and cheaper to set up your own self hosted WordPress website, with your own unique domain, in order to showcase your hobbies, your cooking skills, or your travel photos & stories, or anything really.
In this article I aim to show you how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog. What I can not show you is “how to get rich quick while travelling the world” as I’m still trying to figure out how to do that, if ever.
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Self-hosted basically means you have your own domain with no weebly.com or wordpress.com or blogspot.com in your website name. Self-hosting also costs a little to get started, but it also allows you to do practically what you want with your site. You have almost complete freedom to use any theme or plugin.
I have not counted the steps needed to start a self-hosted WordPress website, there are quite a few more than 6, 3, 12 etc. But they are very quick steps, so read on to discover how to set up your new self-hosted WordPress website on a lazy Sunday afternoon while sipping Pina Colada by your pool and dreaming of the places you plan to go to and write about…..
How to start your own self-hosted WordPress blog
Choose a domain name
This is the 1st and most important step. Try asking someone to mail you something or come for a visit without giving them your address.
It is nice if your domain says something about you and your website, but this is not overly important, the content you publish on your website is.
Now assuming you want to keep your SEO rankings, changing a domain name is something that’s difficult and complicated once your site has been up and running for a while, so choose wisely. If you do decide to change domain name at any point in the future, in order to keep your SEO rankings and to re-route traffic from the old domain to the new one, you will need to maintain ownership of the old domain name.
Now what comes after your domain is not really important. Some say it is, some say it isn’t, although I will suggest try for a .com first, then maybe .net
If your target audience is mostly in one country, you can go for an extension such as .co.za for South Africa, .nl for The Netherlands, .be for Belgium, .co.uk for The United Kingdom, you get the idea.
However, there are a ton of other cool top level domain extensions available, such as .travel .xyz .tv .beer .bike and so on. Prices vary.
You can click on this link to Namesilo to search for your perfect domain name.
Incidentally, ‘.tv’ is actually from the small South Pacific island of Tuvalu, but anyone can register a domain with it. This is especially useful if you are in the media/television business.
For some epic domain name fails and more tips & tricks on what to consider when choosing a domain name, go here: Worst Domain Names
Next step is web hosting.
I might write more about this later, but I’m not sure I need to as Siteground will help you all the way, whether you are just starting out or you have an established live site that you want to move to a host that really knows what they are doing. They currently have data centres in Chicago USA, London UK, Amsterdam The Netherlands, Milan Italy and Singapore. Their service is just out of this world.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is free open source software, or rather a free CMS (Content Management System) that assembles and then serves or displays to the world the content that you upload to your website in almost any way you want it to.
Then there are the 1000’s of free themes and plugins in the wordpress.org repository that will add seemingly infinite functionality to your site. It is by far the most popular software of its kind, running about 23% of the worlds top 10 million websites as of January 2015.
Do I need HTTPS?
Good question. Lets put it this way, it will not hurt your site in any way if you do have it, but it might hurt if you don’t.
Perhaps you’ve heard about the Google mandate / legislation / decree that sites with HTTPS will now be ranked higher than other sites on HTTP with similar content, and it doesn’t matter if they don’t have an online store or capture sensitive information. Google is basically campaigning for HTTPS everywhere. Browsers are now warning visitors that a site is not secure and that it might be dangerous even if it is just a small basic fashion blog that does not request sensitive user info. This could chase potential visitors away.
With that said, it would seem that when the mighty Google says jump, we do not ask why, but how high?
Now you can install a Lets’ Encrypt SSL certificate for free through Siteground! Yes, everybody gets a free SSL! It is also highly recommended that you have SSL installed when you start your site, as switching to HTTPS at a later stage can be complicated, and you will lose all your social media share counts. Siteground have also embraced new technology and have configured their servers such that you don’t need a dedicated IP anymore to install SSL. A dedicated IP may however be needed if you are collecting online payments etc. At the time of writing this post, a dedicated IP was €2/month. But again, their service is top, so if you need advice, just ask.
I would also keep up with your own continued research when it comes to HTTPS and other Google ‘rules’ as I can’t update this article as fast as Google keeps changing them.
The Best WordPress Theme
For the ultimate WordPress theme, we highly recommend Divi 4.0 by Elegant Themes, due to be released on 17 October 2019. The most popular premium WordPress theme in the world, we have been using Divi for a few years now and just love it. Being able to edit on the front end and to see your changes happen right in front of you in real time is just fantastic.
Plugins that I highly recommend to start a WordPress blog with are:
Akismet. This is actually already included in your WordPress installation, you just need to activate it. It does an excellent job of preventing comment spam, for free. Donations are most welcome.
Jetpack. I think this is the most used WordPress plugin. Have a look at it and I’m sure you will find more than one usefull feature.
UpdraftPlus. This I cannot stress enough….backup, backup, backup your site, after you have put content on it, even though Siteground also makes backups. This plugin is tried and tested by yours truly. It protected my site from none other than…..myself, after I messed with core code. It was also much quicker restoring from my own backup. And a little extra backup redundancy never hurt anyone.
Wordfence Security. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad people out there who will want to hack your site, and believe me, they will try. No site in the world is immune from such things, sadly.
Yoast SEO. A very powerful and useful ‘must have’ plugin.
All the above plugins, and any other plugin obtained from the WordPress plugin repository will have instructions on how to customise and set them up to suit your needs
Thats about it really. At least the set up process for your new self hosted blog. The only thing that now limits you is your imagination! There is also a huge international community of people out there just waiting to help you, including me, should you need it. For more info on WordPress and how to use it, go to: www.wordpress.org Also be sure to download any themes and plugins only from there, or from within your WordPress installation, or from sources you are sure you can trust.
If you have any questions or would like any clarity on the things I have just said, please drop a comment.
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